But on the other side, Auburn's quarterback, Nick Marshall, as quiet a force as Winston is a bombastic one, deserves much credit for this game being the thriller it turned out to be.
Marshall, a junior from Pineview, Ga., who was a cornerback at Georgia before getting in trouble at school, transferring to a junior college in Kansas, then transferring again to Auburn last fall, was a wizard in Coach Gus Malzahn's read-option offense.
He rushed for 1,024 yards for the Tigers this season, and ran Malzahn's "smoke and mirrors" multiple-option offense like somebody who had done it for three years, not somebody who hadn't even been around for spring football.
He passed for 217 yards and two touchdown against Florida State and rushed for 45 more.
Afterward, Malzahn said his team had been "just on the brink," and it was Marshall who led them there. He said several times in the leadup to this game that he and his staff were so unfamiliar with exactly what Marshall could do that the first four games were merely a study for them on his potential.
"We were doing a lot of Dr. Phil-ing," Malzahn said.
No need for that next season.
In a game where he was pretty much an afterthought, an unheralded figure in the large shadow of Winston, Marshall showed his best stuff.
Marshall was a quiet man who almost stole a national title from Winston, the player everybody expected would make most of the noise.
In the end, Winston did.
But so did the game itself, a masterpiece of the spectacular sort that may light the fuse for years to come for future college football playoffs.